The other day, Dave Pollard wondered about our injuries. Are we broken the way horses are broken? Just as slavery rebounds on the slaver, breaking other creatures rebounds on the animal who does the breaking. Domestication is a two-edged sword. As Andy Schmookler wrote years ago in only a slightly different context, we are all wounded.
So how do we heal? I am reminded of all the stories of horses, once patiently, joylessly domestic, fleeing back into wildness whenever they could, jumping from ships near Assateague Island, breaking free from the Spanish, or ducking ranch servitude. A few years ago, you could still hear the neighing of the mustang herds along the Colorado.
They give us a clue, don’t you think? Readily adapting to old freedom and new habitats, their deep ancient knowing told them what to do. They re-membered horse communities: harems each with a strong stallion defending the mares against other horses and predators, as their wild ancestors had done from time out of time. And those humans lucky enough to see them galloping by in all their glory, manes streaming, nostrils flared, fiery eyes glowing can catch, if just for a moment, a glimpse of our own primeval being.
It is futile for us to try to heal while still within civilization. We can no more heal now than can the cowboy’s saddle horse. Do those bored, droopy ponies in the corral need therapeutic practices? Or do they need to get out of the corral and run free, healing as they go deeper into their ancestral lifeway? They become wild mustangs again by virtue of living as wild mustangs…